Options For Everyone

Even line workers get them. Will they help companies grow?

Annie Hansley, a customer-service representative at Chemical Banking Corp., never owned stock or much cared about the market--until she received options, that is. In 1994, Chemical awarded Hansley and every other full-time employee "success shares," or options to buy 500 shares of company stock at $40.50 each. When the stock hit 50, 55, and 60, and stayed there for three days running, employees could exercise a portion of the options and collect the cash. Suddenly, checking the quote in the newspaper became an early-morning ritual at Chemical. And as the stock reached its target exercise prices and employees could cash out for a profit, the excitement reached a fever pitch. "I hadn't been watching the stock price before. But once it hit 50, it was all we talked about in the morning," says Hansley, who as a result of a 1996 merger now works in New York for Chase Manhattan Corp.

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